The reason I call pregnancy a journey is because to me that’s exactly what it is. You begin with certain beliefs and perceptions about how things will be. Then the reality of the experiences end up leaving you completely changed along the way. I have outlined the main “lessons” I believe I learned on my path to motherhood during this 9 month period of rapid growth and development for not only my child but me as well!
How very little some people know about pregnancy.
I know it’s a shocker but guess what – engaging in a conversation with a pregnant woman does not mean regular conversation etiquette goes out the window. You don’t point out the obvious – “wow you’re huge!” You don’t sit there telling birth and labour horror stories. Even worse, do not tell a pregnant woman about instances of stillborn births and miscarriages. Trust me, there’s enough stuff floating around in their minds they don’t need this as well! Lastly, this ones more relevant near the end but incessant pestering about the due date is truly not necessary. A pregnant woman most likely already feels like a ticking time bomb. She does not have any control over when this little one is going to grace the world with his or her presence. First time mothers (like myself) have never been through this before so obviously as excited as we are to have and hold the baby at last there is also the aspect of sheer terror. Personally, I am petrified of all that comes before that blissful moment so no I don’t want to make light of when it’s going to happen – it’ll happen when it happens!
How different things were from how I thought they were supposed to be.
I am not sure how it is for other expectant mothers but for me issues began during the “secrecy period.” What I’m referring to here is the time frame before 12 weeks in which you do not typically announce your pregnancy because things are still fairly touch and go. This time period was absolutely horrid for me as basically anything that could’ve gone wrong to add stress to this time – did. I was faced with situations that lead to a whole lot of altercation and unnecessary nuisance. Many other things fell into place in just the incorrect way to lead to absolute misery for a few months. However, there is always a silver lining! These eye-opening “events” have actually become something I appreciate. I learned about resilience and the need to summon your inner strength and patience when you need it most.
Upon learning I was pregnant I spent a lot of time dreaming of what my child was going to be like (as I am sure most expectant women do). A big part of this was wondering if I was having a boy or a girl. I looked forward to the time of sharing this news and announcing the gender in some cutesy “Pinterest inspired way.” However, due to familial requests it was decided that the gender of the baby would be kept a secret or to not inquire about it at all. I’m not superstitious nor do I believe in the ill will of others so this was something I felt I was deprived of. I don’t like having an inflated sense of self-importance so I didn’t see the big deal in sharing the gender with others. The lesson in all of this is that it does not matter what preconceived notions you have about how you will deal with your pregnancy in respect to others, when the situation arises for compromise – sometimes it’s easier to just go with it!
The surprises involved with the medical/physical aspect of pregnancy.
The number one physical struggle I dealt with was accepting all the weight gain that comes along with carrying a child. I have always been fairly petite so people’s free for all comments about my rapidly expanding waist line was probably the biggest struggle. Once I hit my third trimester looking down at the scale and seeing such a huge number hit me like a ton of bricks. It seemed people were amused at seeing me look so different from what they were used to. If only I could’ve been as intrigued by it as well instead I allowed it to make me feel insecure and unattractive. This is something I wish I had a better perspective on as it is silly to fret about numbers on a scale when those are directly translated to the health of your child.
As if bodily changes weren’t enough my skin decided to regress back to it’s preteen state which yes was also brought to my attention as if I was somehow at fault. As my hormones calmed down from their spikes and falls so did my skin troubles so at least I won’t be looking like a teen mom anymore. Another major unexpected physical aspect to pregnancy is how the farther along you are (and bigger you get) – the more you can literally feel your bones shifting and separating. I feel like Humpty Dumpty and need somebody to put me together again!
Lastly, although this seems like a rather small physical change in the grand scheme of pregnant life – it was rather difficult for me to deal with the fact that you’re a human pin pricking cushion for 9 months. With all the blood tests and injections I have actually (kinda sorta) overcome my fear of needles.
The surprising amount a pregnant woman can worry about just about anything and everything.
My number one issue in this category is stressing about work. I don’t have a 9-5 I have a 24/7 as I work within a family business. So I feel super nervous about leaving everything up in the air not knowing if my duties and responsibilities are going to be adequately handled. Not to mention it’s been increasingly difficult to even keep up with things in the state I’m in now. I know I won’t be able to jump right back into things too quickly after having the baby regardless of my desire to do so. Letting go of my need to control is definitely a major lesson learned which I have not quite mastered yet.
Another culturally related factor – I feel rather nervous about is the imminent loss of privacy and changes with boundaries. At times I feel rather apprehensive about how life is going to change once the baby arrives. I am currently used to it mostly just being my husband and I. But in the Indian world once a little one comes into the picture your marital partnership becomes more of a group circle. I suppose it’s all about finding a healthy and comfortable balance of knowing when to accept help and when to do things your own way.
How over 9 months your perception, expectations, and experiences change drastically.
The moment I learned I was pregnant I was filled with this overwhelming sense of love, strength, and protectiveness toward this teeny tiny little individual growing inside of me. Then, rather quickly, out went the rainbows and butterflies and this warm fuzzy feeling turned into a general feeling of shitty-ness ALL THE TIME. Naturally, I became more focused on the physical aspect of things. Then came the kicks and movement. There are no words for this experience. It is like the ground shifts from underneath you and things suddenly become very real. Other then that the second trimester is rather uneventful. You nearly feel like yourself again. Winding down to the end the third trimester involves big changes in emotions, physical pain, and discomfort. I was not prepared for pain to come so much before labour. However, I have to admit it is pretty unreal how a woman’s body just instinctively knows what it needs to do to adjust to all the changes of carrying a child and to prepare for their arrival into the world!
The way in which your relationship will change and grow along the way as well.
The biggest change out of all this is how much my husband and I have grown closer which I did not even think was possible after 10 years together. He’s been my rock and without him there’s no way I could be handling everything this experience has entailed. He talks me out of my crazy moments. He encourages me and reminds me what this is all about. He tells me I’m beautiful countless times a day despite my changed body and demeanor. He picks up the slack with housework and dotes on my every request. He’s just been simply amazing and I feel 100% confident in beginning my journey of motherhood with him by my side.
So I know this wasn’t exactly a typical “pregnancy story” post but I felt like I had to share the good, the bad, and the ugly if I wanted to be completely brutally honest – which is how I try to keep all my writing! I am sure with all of the major changes just around the corner a lot of this will become irrelevant and I will be learning a whole new batch of life lessons which will leave me changed once again!